24 June 2024

International Cases

Moodley and Another vs. The State

South Africa



State bears the onus to prove the identity of the Accused and to dispel their alibi defence beyond reasonable doubt

The matter involved Dinesh Moodley and Ugresen Perumal who were convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison on 6 September 2019 by the Gauteng Division of the High Court, Johannesburg (the high court and trial court). The conviction was based on eyewitness testimony that identified the appellants as the shooters who killed Avinash Manjanu. The appellants appealed the conviction, arguing that the identification evidence was unreliable and that they were not present at the scene of the crime. The main issue on appeal was whether the State proved the identity of the assailants beyond a reasonable doubt, particularly in light of the witnesses' prior knowledge of the appellants.

It is trite that the state bears the onus to prove the identity of the appellants and to dispel their alibi defence beyond reasonable doubt. In the circumstances, it is not sufficient for the witness to be honest, as the reliability of the witness must also be tested against opportunity of observation, lighting, visibility and the witnesses’ proximity to the appellant. The alibi defence raised, must be considered with other evidence in totality, together with the impression of the witnesses.

The eyewitnesses' identification of the appellants was reliable and credible, given their prior knowledge of the appellants. The witnesses had ample opportunity to observe the appellants, they knew the appellants personally, the lighting was good and the witnesses were not shaken during cross-examination. Supreme Court referred to Abdullah vs. The State, stating that the degree of previous knowledge and the opportunity for a correct identification are crucial factors in cases of identification. The appellants' alibi defence was false and that the State had proved their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Appeal dismissed.

Tags : Conviction Identification Legality

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